Kevin Durant had not done too much besides defend LeBron James and have a key block before the fourth quarter of Game 1. However, it would have been foolish for any fan to believe that his story would not have been inked in the fourth.
Durant has the type of killer instinct that reminds fans of those once in a lifetime players of the 80s and the 90s in times where the league was not such a soft and restricted area. You know the time when the Dream Team was first making headway nationally and even their practices were as physical as their playoffs.
KD seems to have been raised in the era in which it never mattered how you started, but how you closed. With the humility it takes to shrug off a single game victory, Durant can once again raise a double-digit fourth quarter outing against an elite team in the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Not just any playoffs series, however.
The 2012 NBA Finals.
Durant woke the crowd as Thabo Sefolosha’s defense on LeBron seemed to rattle the efficiency of his jump shot and Nick Collison took care of all the little things. Normally his screens in Oklahoma City’s high pick and roll scenarios go ineffective because of how unproductive he can be offensively.
That failed to be the case and the Thunder reaped every reward of it.
While credit should definitely be given to the 25-plus point efforts of both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, it should also be given to Miami’s defensive collapses in the second half of the game. At one point in the game, Durant was left on the left side of the court to take a wide open jumper.
No one in the league, with an ounce of knowledge of defense, would leave Durant wide open. Yet, Miami did. Instead of crowding him and making him take tough shots, the Heat allowed him to get comfortable as if he was not the leading scorer of the 2011-12 NBA regular season.
What was also perplexing about the Miami Heat was that Dwyane Wade did not grace 20 PTS. LeBron is expected to be the engine of the train barreling through the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Wade is not an idle fraction of the Heat’s road to success.
Wade is a superstar as well, but without playing championship ball, he forces Miami to dig themselves out of a hole that he wants no parts of.
Wade’s troubles have included getting into foul trouble and taking those inane jumpshots that should be left up to the men on the team paid to take them (i.e. Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, James Jones). Wade and James are incredible scorers when they force their way into the paint, but in Game 1, Wade too often settled for long distance jumpers that just were not falling.
Even after struggling from the outside consistently, he did not make a continuous effort to get in the post. The Miami Heat paid for his struggles heavily.
In Game 2, it will be interesting to see how both he and James recover, because even with 30 PTS in the meeting, James could have obviously done so much more to secure a steal in Oklahoma City. James Harden did not score double digits, which will also be a trend that should not be expected to transpire in Game 2.
Each team will be better prepared for the runs that their opponent will throw at them and this series will continue to be one etched in history.